Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Doom and Gladness

Wednesday Advertising Day.

We know that Noel Sickles and Milt Caniff worked together on the Mr. Coffee Nerves series of ads in the late thirsties. Later installments of this long running series were probably drawn by Lou Fine. But neither of these men were the originators of this series and the history is a lot more intricate than one would expect at first glance.

The earliest samples I could find were done in 1934. The art is not nearly as interesting as that of Sickles and Caniff, but the design of Mr. Coffe Nerves is there completely. Those who think Biro's design of the ghostly appearance of Mr. Death in his crime comics were an influence on this figure, are wrong. It is more likely that the influence was the other way around, unless both in some way took their visuals from the even earlier penny dreadful villians (complete wih twirling mustache). Unfortnately I am not enough of an art conaisseur to recognize the artist of this early sample, but maybe one of my more knowledgeable visitors will.

March 11 1934:

April 8 1934:

After that, in 1936 and 1937 the first (daily) ads by Paul Arthur (the pseudonymn used by Sickles and Caniff) ran. I have shown most of my samples in an earlier post (follow the tag), but here is one I may have forgotten.

March 1937:

In the meantime, a second series was developed calles The Joys and Glooms. These more comical ads showed the destructive work of a group of gremlin-like pixies, who plagued everyone who couldn't take his coffee. The first one I have seems to have been a daily, but sundays appeared as well, all through 1936 and 1937.

Late 1936:

Early 1937:

I have no samples for 1938, so I don't know what was going on, but I did find two more seriously drawn ads on the bottom of a couple of 1939 papers I recieved this week. The artist is unknown to me, but seems to be a completely different one from all the other versions.

March 20 1939:

April 22 1939:

In 1940 Sickles and Canff were back with what seems to have been on ad a month. you ca go to my other posts to see the later samples by Lou Fine and compare the first Paul Arthur sample here with a three tier color version, to see how much you are missing on those other black and white two tiers.

Feb 15 1940:

March 2 1940:

April 14 1940:

May 5 1940:

May 26 1940:

June 1940:

Aug 18 1940:

Oct 6 1940;

Oct 2 1940:

Nov 6 1940 (clipped the wrong way);

Dec 8 1940:

And then Mr. Coffee Nerves disappears. So it may be that Chrles Biro, when copying this idea, thought it would never come back and terefor that no one would accuse him of appropriating someone else's design. The last appearance of the ghosty coffee bad guy was in a 191 ad, where he appeared with the pixies of Joys and Glooms. It is signed Paul Fung, who may also be Paul Fung Jr., Chick Young's assistant on Blondie in the forties and fifties and my favorite subject for another long running ad series of 1947, Fireball Twigg. Paul Fung Sr. was also an artist, but his style was completely different.

March 30 1941:


Smurfswacker said...

A fascinating and very thorough look at the famous bad guy. I'd no idea so many artists worked on the series. I don't recognize any of the others. I wonder why Mr. C's name suddenly changed to "Mr. Caffeine Nerves" for the daily strip.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Thanks fr metioning the name difference, which as helped me fin some more (and even later) samples. I will upload them this weekend.

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

"Joys and Glooms" and "Double Trouble" are by Paul Fung Sr as far as I can tell. (The signature on DT is definitely the one of Fung Sr.)
Got a few of these in color. I should post them on my blog some day.

Alex said...

There was a short-lived one-panel comic, "The Ribbers" by Bill Sakren and Noel Sickles, as part of the ad for Ten High Bourbon. The ads ran in LIFE magazine in these issues (plus the link to Google Books):

April 14 1941
p102: Bill Sakren

June 9 1941
p141: Noel Sickles

June 30 1941
p105: Noel Sickles

August 11 1941
p37: Noel Sickles

Alberich el Negro said...

the character of Mr. Coffee Nerves was created by the illustrator Albert Dorne (see here). It's very possible therefore that he was the designer of the Postum's comic strips.

Best wishes.